If your salt and pepper shakers are the only seasonings that have seen the light of day in recent weeks, it’s time to step up your game with homemade seasoning blends. They’ll soon become your secret weapon to making healthy, mouth-watering meals in a flash.


One of the easiest ways to increase both the flavor and nutritional value of your meals and snacks is by sprinkling on some high-quality herbs and spices. Culinary herbs and spices offer a plethora of health benefits, adding antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, glucose-lowering, cholesterol-lowering and even brain-boosting properties to your meals. We can thank the bioactive polyphenols, terpenoids, alkaloids and sulfur-containing compounds for these spicy superpowers.

Spice things up with homemade seasoning blends. #saslife Click To Tweet

Pick a spice, any spice, and you’ll likely find some pretty impressive health benefits. For example, current research suggests that cardamom, coriander, turmeric and ginger can decrease risk and improve management of heart disease. And rosemary, ginger, curry leaf, turmeric and lemongrass (to name just a few) have been shown to dramatically reduce carcinogens created from high heat cooking. Check out even more reasons to love  ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. Long story short, you’ll get a variety of health benefits from a variety of herbs and spices, so load up on them!

In case you’re wondering about the difference between herbs and spices, herbs are the leaves of plants (e.g., oregano), while spices are the buds (e.g., cloves), fruit (e.g., chili pepper), berries (e.g., allspice), seeds (e.g., coriander), roots (e.g., turmeric) or bark (e.g., cinnamon).


Having some go-to, premade seasoning blends on hand is one of the easiest ways to start working more herbs and spices into your menu. Try a few out, and get to know which seasonings you like best with which proteins and sides, and soon you’ll be throwing delicious meals together without relying on complicated recipes with a long list of ingredients.




Sure, stores offer a variety of premade seasoning blends, but they often contain sugar, MSG or other additives. Many store-bought seasoning blends also contain salt which limits the amount you can use before your food becomes over-salted. When you make your own blends, you get to control exactly what goes in and make use of some the spices that are already in your cabinet.



  • Storage – store seasonings in a cool dark space, ideally in glass (not plastic) containers
  • Age – over time, the beneficial phytonutrients break down, so use and replace herbs and spices within 6 months (or up to a year for spices in their whole, unground form such as whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc.)
  • Quality – for maximum health benefit, buy organic



To get started on your own seasoning mixes, it can be helpful to have a few simple tools on hand.

  • Measuring spoons
  • Funnel or a rolled up sheet of paper to make your own
  • Jars — I recommend upcycling the jars and shaker lids of spices that you’ve used up. The labels usually come right off after soak in hot, soapy water and a little scrub. For your reference, spice jar sizes vary, but a pretty standard sized spice jar holds ½ cup or 8 Tbsp. If you don’t have old spice jars on hand, use another small container with an airtight lid.

Give the Everything Bagel, Sazon and Pumpkin Pie seasonings below a try, and before you know it you’ll be ditching the cookbook and using your premade blends to whip up something delicious! And here are a few more favorites to add to your collection: Cajun Spice Rub, High Cannabinoid Spice Blend, Lemon Pepper Seasoning, Lawry's Seasoning, Taco Seasoning.


Everything Bagel Seasoning

Makes 8 Tbsp
Recipe Adapted From: Two Peas & Their Pod

Get all the flavor of an everything bagel without all the refined carbs. This seasoning is especially delicious on cooked vegetables, salads, eggs and popcorn.


2 Tbsp dried minced garlic
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp white sesame seeds


  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Store in an air-tight container or an old spice jar with a shaker lid.

Note: If you prefer to include salt with this seasoning mix, add 2 teaspoons of sea salt and reduce the amount of onion and garlic each to 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp.


Sazon Seasoning

Makes 5 Tbsp
Recipe From: Fifteen Spatulas

This Latin blend jazzes up rice, beans, potatoes, pulled pork, and chicken drumsticks, wings and thighs.


1 Tbsp ground annatto seeds *
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder


  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Store in an air-tight container or an old spice jar with a shaker lid.

*Note: Annatto seeds are not available in many brick and mortar stores. You can find them online. I suggest buying the organic seeds and grinding them in a coffee grinder. You can substitute 1 part turmeric and 2 parts paprika in place of annatto for a slightly different, yet still delicious flavor.


Pumpkin Pie Spice

Makes 5 Tbsp
Recipe Adapted From: Live Well Bake Often

Fall would not be complete without pumpkin spice. Use it with fall-themed smoothies, oatmeal/hot cereals, apples with nut butter, coffee, roasted nuts, winter squash or sweet potatoes and popcorn.


3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves


  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Store in an air-tight container or an old spice jar with a shaker lid.

Note: For an unexpected kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper.

This smoothie is a tasty, healthy and filling — a perfect way to put your pumpkin pie spice to good use!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Makes 1 Serving
Recipe Adapted From: Veganosity


1 cup milk of choice
½ cup organic pumpkin puree
½ medium banana, frozen
1 small to medium carrot
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 scoop unsweetened clean protein powder of choice, optional
1-2 tsp pure maple syrup, optional
1 tsp cacao nibs, optional


  1. Add milk, pumpkin puree, banana, carrot, pumpkin pie spice and (optional) protein powder to a blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. Add maple syrup or another half frozen banana for additional sweetness if desired.
  3. Add water as needed for desired consistency.
  4. For a fun crunch, top with cacao nibs.


About Author

Jen Sohl-Marion, MPH, RDN, LDN

Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs

Jen is the Manager of Nutrition and Healthy Living Programs at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Outside of work, Jen enjoys hiking with her family, practicing yoga and spending quality time with her dogs.

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